Willin': The Story of Little Feat

Willin': The Story of Little Feat

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by Ben Fong-Torres

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The saga of the legendary Los Angeles band Little Feat is one of rock ’n’ roll’s great stories. Formed in 1969 by ex-members of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, Little Feat created groove-heavy music that was an irresistible mix of rock, blues, R&B, country, jazz, soul, and funk.
Fronted by the charismatic but doomed vocalist and…  See more details below


The saga of the legendary Los Angeles band Little Feat is one of rock ’n’ roll’s great stories. Formed in 1969 by ex-members of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, Little Feat created groove-heavy music that was an irresistible mix of rock, blues, R&B, country, jazz, soul, and funk.
Fronted by the charismatic but doomed vocalist and brilliant slide guitarist Lowell George, the band recorded such classic studio albums as Sailin’ Shoes and Dixie Chicken, as well as Waiting for Columbus, which many consider to be one of the best live albums of all time.

Acclaimed journalist Ben Fong-Torres—working with Little Feat’s surviving members, their friends, and associates—wrote Willin’ based on hours of brand new interviews with the key players. The result? The first definitive biography of this beloved rock ’n’ roll institution.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Booklist, 11/1/13

“Drawing on interviews with bandmates, family members, and fellow musician…details the in-fighting; the romantic entanglements (which rival those of Fleetwood Mac); the drugs; and the music. …This long-overdue biography is a treat for Feat fans and an homage to a seminal ’70s band whose influence on other musicians far outweighs its commercial success.”

Niagara Gazette/Tonawanda News Sunday, 10/27/13

“If you are familiar with the music of Little Feat you will absolutely love the book, as it answers a lot of questions.  If not, well it is a great cultural history piece on how the music industry has evolved over the years and one band’s tenacity to overcome all of those changes.”

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, 11/10/13

“A definitive history of a most interesting (and talented) band”

Vintage Guitar, 1/1/13

“[An] enticing, entertaining read.”

Blogcritics, 12/4/13

“Fong-Torres was the perfect choice for this book….For those of us who have been waiting for the definitive Little Feat book to come along, this is it.”

Toronto Globe and Mail, 12/7/13

“Probably the most underrated band in rock ’n’ roll history, Little Feat (Willin’, Dixie Chicken) finally gets its due. Focus is properly on its presiding spirit, the brilliant and doomed Lowell George.”

Glide Magazine, 1/8/14

“Founding Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres does an admirably restrained job of telling the Feats story factually and without undue melodrama…Meticulously gathering facts like the expert reporter that he is, Fong-Torres speaks with seemingly all those around George at every point in his life.”

Houston Press, 1/20/13

“[The] story and music of Little Feat are due for reevaluation among classic-rock fans, and Willin’ is a big step in that direction.”

Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/16/2014

“A fine Rolling Stone writer drawn to tales of tragic greatness unfulfilled… Fong-Torres is a good stylist, an excellent music reporter, and a compassionate storyteller. It's hard to tell stories about music and musicians: So much is hidden, so much chaotic. The rock life is a road, not an arc, highlights but few resolutions. Fong-Torres knows that better than almost any writer alive. He weaves a tale of superbly gifted, sensitive people trying to make something good, enjoyable, and lasting…. Willin' is one of the few books that makes a band's post-spotlight career as interesting as its salad days.”

Kirkus Reviews
An eclectic Los Angeles rock band of the 1970s that deserved a much larger following isn't likely to reach one through this serviceable biography. The first book ever about Little Feat leaves little doubt that this was a singular band--hailed by the likes of Jimmy Buffett, Bonnie Raitt and even the Rolling Stones as arguably the best ever. Yet the biographical minutiae and recording details gathered here fail to capture the magic that would elevate a band whose members didn't get along into a unit that was so much more than the sum of the parts. To be fair to veteran rock journalist Fong-Torres (Eagles: Taking It to the Limit, 2011, etc.), there are a number of challenges facing anyone trying to tell this story: memories blurred by drugs and time, differing perspectives, the creative relationship of the rest of the band to its talented, tormented frontman, Lowell George. "The story of Little Feat is the story of Lowell George--that's not in debate," writes the author. "But it is also the story of the other guys who made up the original quartet and who, from the beginning, helped create the music and set the tone of Little Feat." It's actually as much the story of those who joined the band after that original quartet (only one of whom is still making music), pushing the band's music away from its native LA and more toward the great American South (particularly New Orleans). But the book is mainly about George, who could be both charming and duplicitous, genius and difficult, and who had either quit the band or was fired when he died (under somewhat mysterious circumstances) in 1979 at age 34. The band eventually soldiered on for longer without George than the tumultuous decade with him, but his death let the air out of the tires--in both the band's career and this book. Those who are already fans will appreciate the few revelations here.

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Da Capo Press
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Willin': The Story of Little Feat 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My favorite and most prized photograph is of me and Paul Barerre and Fred Tackett after they did a Little Feat show in Virginia Beach, VA in the fall of 2010. I was also lucky to see a show they did with Lowell George in 1978 in Macomb, IL... I wad hooked on their music from the first time I heard an album of their music which happened in Iowa City, IA in 1973, although I did not know it was Little Feat at the time... I remembered the song 'Willin' and when I heard it again a couple yesrs later I paid attention... Love this book, very well written and researched... also loved the book on another American rock hero, - Gram Parsons by the same author !